Last night wasn’t pleasant for John Merrie, a professor of Metaphysics at the Scientology University, Naija. It was extremely hot and it kept him awake the best part of the night. He woke up this morning feeling dazzled and weak.
Merrie stepped out to catch the cool morning breeze on his balcony atop his one-story castle house, in Tsar, Dodan Province in Southern Nigeria.
He had momentarily forgotten about the day’s schedules, as the cool breeze streamed through his dehydrated body. Then thoughts flooded his mind. After a while, experiences of the previous night replayed and he suddenly remembered a dream he had.
He has never liked the idea of dreams, and often forgets them when he wakes up the next day. But the dream of last night was particularly appealing to him, so it played back unusually. With his body fully relaxed on the sofa, he recollected it vividly.
Then a news item on his transistor radio beside the sofa jolted him up the more. It was reviewing the recent plane crash in neighbouring Ghana. It couldn’t disclose the cause of the air mishap. But he started thinking again.
Could it be terrorists hijack, mechanical default or what? He asked himself rhetorically. But the fresh thoughts rhymed with the dream he had last night which dwelt on Naija’s terrorism battles. He dreamt Gen. Buratai’s men have captured alive, the notorious Boko Haram terrorists kingpin, Abubakar Shekau after a fierce battle in the jungles of the Northeast.
This prospect excited him and he wished it had been instantly true and that the radio news item would have announced the news. He whispered to his housemaid for a glass of cold water. He gulped and heaved a sigh of relief.
“Poor dude Shekau,” he said to himself, the game is over for you.
Merrie hated dreams because for him, dreams were premonitions of reality around him. And since most dreams were about something dreary, the odd and the fearful, he preferred nights without dreams. But he loved the one on Shekau’s capture.
So, at last, soldiers would bring this criminal alive for all Nigerians to see? That day shall be declared national holiday to enable all Nigerians get to where he is held captive to catch a glimpse of him. Shekau, this teenager has caused so much pains and sorrows to our people and families.
He placed Nigeria on the cusp of destruction, until Buratai was appointed to lead the counter-insurgency war. He escaped the last attempt at his capture when the army invaded and captured the Sambisa forest in Borno. They searched for him everywhere, but alas, he had mysteriously escaped again. Only his flag and a personal copy of the Holy Koran was recovered from the Camp Zero fortress he had hidden all these years to torment the people.
For almost one hour, Merrie was transfixed on his sofa, exploring the world of terrorism and the Nigerian Army in his mind. To him, Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai, the Army Chief struck him with the image of a soldier, with a brave heart, which is a powerful weapon. He wondered how he dexterously marshaled his forces against terrorists and succeeded in decapitating and defeating them within a short time. He was more pleased to recollect that before now, it seemed impossible and berserk terrorists could strike and dare everybody.
Now, they are fleeing, surrendering themselves or hiding in unusual hideouts, not to strike again, but more preoccupied with how to escape to safety. They now hide to strike, even at it; soldiers catch them in their tracks. They are no more gallant rebels, but cold, sheepish fiends who have lost the strength and power to haughtily assail Nigerians violently and brag about it in the open.
He laughed it out aloud and murmured, “those were the bad old days, when soldiers retreated before them. But not now! No, never again; with Buratai, their nemesis, still on the saddle of the anti-terrorism campaigns. Then he remembered the famous words of Martin Luther that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Buoyed by its sense, Merrie vowed to speak out. “This soldier qualifies for a gold medal in soldiering,” he muttered aloud.
Although a scientist, Merrie had a passion for poems. And in his elementary school days, he composed poems that earned him applauses from both teachers and students, when he recites them at the school assembly. The poetic instincts enlivened again. "Let me compose a poem for Buratai and his soldiers before the D-day of Shekau’s capture,” he said.
“I wish it should be recited by all like the national anthem on the day of Shekau’s capture,” he added.
Merrie started scribbling the poem on his mind. But the verses came with much splendor than he expected. So, he called for a pen and his jotter. He began to write.
“Nigeria, the liberation from terrorism
You tearfully asked on bended kneels, to no avail,
Is here at last.
On a platter of gold,
the military demystified the mystery of terror, trudged jungles,
Dodged and detonated bombs and other lethal weapons,
Of insurgents to give you peace and freedom from terror.
Isn’t this a priceless gift?
All hail the Nigerian Army.
They have not relented yet;
These Buratai’s boys are still combing the land
In search of fleeing terrorists.
And we hear, they are close on capturing Shekau alive
Isn’t this good news? And I trust in their competence
To break mountains and surmount all barriers to give us
The living frame of Shekau, drenched in his won sorrow,
My ancestors tell me, Shekau is about to be captured.
He is about to be disgraced.
He is about to pay for his sins.
You died three times before
But Shekau IV will die once
You will renounce your anti-Islam ideologies
And apologise to your country and Nigerians,
Sign of admission of guilt.
You are a coward of the first order
Shakapeare’s Caesar said;
“Cowards die many times before their death,”
This has been your fate. You have died first, second and third times;
But your fourth death has no ceremonies
The law will guillotine you in one split second.”
Professor Merrie ended the short poem and read it over and over again, nodding his head in approval. He decided to send it to the Arts Editor of a newspaper for publication. He e-mailed it and the next day, it featured on the page. What excited him more were the comments of readers, who applauded his poetic ingenuity and also expressed optimism about soldiers’ eventual capture of Shekau soon.
He looked at time on his wrist watch and it was 9:30am. It dawned on him he had a class by 11am. In the lecture hall with his 300 level undergraduate students for the Course, Metaphy: 320: titled, “Impact of Celestial Bodies On Plane Crashes.”
Still basking in the euphoria of his dream of last night about the possible capture of Shekau, Professor Merrie suspended the original topic of the day and dissolved the class into a Discussion Group. And the subject was still on soldiers capture of Shekau and the reactions of Naijas.
He led the discussions and students made robust and elaborate contributions. After 40 minutes of engagement, Merrie fired questions.
He asked his students; “What do you think would be the reaction of Naijas if soldiers capture Shekau IV alive?”
“Nigerians would want to see him physically, and spit on his face” the class chorused.
Good! Merrie affirmed.
He threw another question; what would happen if captured Shekau IV meets Buratai, the Army Chief face to face?
Many hands were up in the air. He allowed a girl, Maria to speak;
She stood up and said, “Shekau would dread looking at his face and the sponsors of terrorism in Naija would know, this country can never be their experimentation center for terrorism.”
Prof. Merrie said, yes, “that’s excellent!” He allowed a second respondee, Ahmed to speak. Ahmed, a shy, but brilliant chap, stood up and said, “Shekau will vomit and shit in his pants before Buratai like Liberia’s Samuel Doe in the hands of Yomie Johnson.”
The class roared in laughter.
So, class, Merrie said, our time is up. But the lesson we have learnt today is that Abubakar Shekau IV will certainly capitulate and yield to the superior powers of federal forces anytime soon. He cannot withstand the intellectual and military prowess of the Nigerian military and its leaders. This possibility looms in the air. It is our desire and it should be our collective prayers; he ended.
“And see you next time,” Prof. said, racing out of the class.
Kolawole, a University teacher writes from Keffi, Nasarawa State.